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tv   Up W Steve Kornacki  MSNBC  December 22, 2013 5:00am-7:01am PST

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's open for everyone. there's not one way to do something. no details too small. american express open forum. this is what membership is. this is what membership does. year in voting rights and what it means for the big election next year. happy sunday morning, everyone. if you celebrate christmas, there are now only three more days to go. and those of us who do mark the holiday find ourselves wondering what is actually real this weekend, and what is actually coal. we heard the term voter fraud a lot in 2013. it is the supposedly huge problem that has been used to justify all of those voter i.d. laws and other voter restrictions passed in state after state. there are new definitive numbers that show just how much of a
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problem this really isn't a problem actually after all. also, president obama sent a big message to his russian counterpart vladimir putin by announcing who he'll be sending to the winter olympics or who he won't be sending. all it seems because of russia's policies on gay rights and the strategy already seems to be paying off. the latest details on how. we'll have a bit of a confession to make as well, something i've been wanting to get off my chest for a number of weeks now, says a lot about me and what i believe most passionately in when it comes to politics. i hope you'll stick around for that. and we'll look at how much of the new movie american hustle actually happened. based on an amazing real life political corruption scandal in the 1970s, but like argo before it, how much of it has been changed for dramatic effect. we'll be taking a closer look to see what it takes to make a good political movie when you have two hours to make one. first, because we only have two hours, a big investigation wrapped up this week when on
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wednesday ohio republican secretary of state jon husted announced his office had uncovered 17 cases of noncitizens voting during the 2012 election in that pivotal swing state. that is 17 cases out of more than 5.6 million people who voted in ohio last year. this in a presidential election decided by over 100,000 votes in that state. 17 entire people who voted when they shouldn't have. similar search by another republican secretary of state, iowa's matt schultz, cost close to $150,000, took about 18 months, and it discovered just about as many cases in that state. 16 instances of supposed voter fraud in that state. yes, these are comically small numbers in the grand scheme of things. but don't discount the power of such seemingly trivial news, because in the conservative media world, this is a huge, huge scandal and a story that viewers have been hearing about all year long.
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>> now there are some new voter fraud cases. >> new concerns over voter fraud. >> a string of voter fraud cases. >> clearly intentional voter fraud. >> fraud, voter fraud, the disenfranchisement of every legitimate voter. >> voter fraud is a very real concern for a certain segment of american society and the lawmakers who represent that segment of the american society. this year eight states passed new laws making it harder to vote, including stricter photo i.d. requirements, cuts to early voting and limiting registration efforts. total of 34 states nationwide have passed voter i.d. laws since huge republican gains at the state level in the 2010 midterms. all of the laws are in full force at this moment, because they haven't been fully implemented yet or because they're being challenged in court. but the intent is there and laws are on the books it make it harder for more than two-thirds of the country to vote. and that's not even the full extent of it.
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in june, the supreme court ruled and shelby county to gut a key section of the 1965 voting rights act, the section that required areas with a history of voter syndrodiscrimination to g prior approval from the justice department before changing their voting laws. texas enacted new voter i.d. law, which is a federal court had previously called the most stringent in the country. another state that had been subject to that prior approval requirement, florida, began to purge its voter roles too, flagging some as potential noncitizens. miami herald found that the voters being removed were predominantly hispanic and actually mostly american citizens. we don't know if it is the legislation and the courts and the media coverage about voting i.d. stories that are driving public opinion. if that's what makes people believe there is a problem that needs to be fixed, but in a washington poll last year, 74%
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of americans last yore said voter i.d. should be necessary to vote. 48% said people casting fraudulent ballots and elections is a, quote, major problem. 33% said it is a minor problem and only 14% said it is not a problem. question is whether these extensive new laws and restrictions are actually legal. is that part of the story which has drawn the attention of president obama's justice department. >> some of them, by the way, may be illegal, may violate righting rights act even after the supreme court's recent ruling, and our justice department is going to be staying on them. if we have evidence that you have mechanisms that are specifically designed to discriminate against certain groups of voters, then the justice department will come down on them and file suit. >> in a new academic study released this week shows the justice department has a case. and that, in fact, the voting rights act still matters. two university of massachusetts
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at boston professors performed a study of voting laws in the five years preceding the 2012 election. and they found that new restrictions went hand and hand with race and class. quoting from their report, the more that minorities and lower income individuals in the state voted, the more likely such restrictions were to be proposed. minorities turned out at the polls at higher rates, the legislation was more likely enacted. study took into account a number of factors and found that voter restrictions passed when more republicans were elected to the state legislatures or when a republican was elected governor of a state. even among states that were becoming more competitive in the presidential election, if there were larger democratic majorities and those states, it was less likely they would pass a restrictive voting law. and in a competitive state with bigger republican majorities, it was more likely they would pass a restrictive law. clearly it has been a tough year with setbacks for voting rights. with the coming year, a big term election year, for more on that,
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i want to bring in denita judge, an attorney who worked on voting rights in communities around the country with the advancement project, wendy wiser, director of democracy program at the brendan center for justice, christina balantoni, soon to be the editor in chief for roll call. congratulations on that. she'll be starting next month. thank you, all, for joining us this morning. we're looking at the year in voter i.d., the year in voting rights, maybe to put this in perspective, maybe put some numbers on the screen to start the conversation. in the year 2013, this is from -- this is information courtesy of the brendan center. as of december 19th, at least 92 restrictive bills have been introduced in 33 states. that's this year. of those, 13 restrictive bills are still pending in five states. of those, five restrictive bills are currently active in two states, in hearings, committee activity, votes taking place, that sort of thing.
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in eight states already have passed nine restrictive bills this year. that's just in the year 2013. this is something we have been talking about for a few years now. this explosion in restrictive voting laws. when you lock ok at where we ar right now, how concerned are you going forward that this is just the start? >> well, i am very concerned that it is just the start. after the supreme court struck down that important provision of the voting rights act, we saw states in the south who have been covered because of their history of discriminatory practices. we saw that right away they started to enact bills that were going to make it harder to vote. going to certainly be burdensome. and the individuals that i am meeting with and talking to do not have the type of i.d. that is going to be necessary for them to vote. and when we look at these polls and the polls say that overwhelmingly many people in the united states believe that photo i.d. is important, when we
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start to talk about those same individuals about the restrictive underlying documents that are needed to get these i.d.s, then those numbers drop significantly. and i think that -- we got to remember that and that it is -- so it is not just about many people believing that individuals have to have photo i.d., we have to ask the right questions of those individuals. >> so the story this year, i think in terms of voting rights, the biggest single story was the supreme court decision, the supreme court decision which basically gutted section five of the voting rights act and you had a number of states, as we said, in the intro, that had to have prior approval from the justice department, before they could change any of their voting rights laws. as soon as that was taken away by the court for instance you had texas, we can -- we can, yeah, read this right here, this is the story of texas, texas attorney and he's also 2014 gubernatorial candidate had to vote this year, had to sign a
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affidavit because the name off his driver's license is slightly different than the name on the texas voter roll. wendy davis also had trouble voting. she sponsored a will that would allow texans to sign an affidavit to vote and not be turned away completely. women's names have often changed due to marriage. this is a law that went in effect that prior to the supreme court ruling would not have gone into effect and has affected texas. >> texas is a good example of why it is that section five is so critical. in the leadup to the 2012 election, courts blocked it. they found it was discriminatory, the most stringent voter i.d. law in the country. even though it is discriminatory, it is in effect. texans went to their state elections in 2013, having to show i.d. under this law, and unless and until a court blocks it under another provision of
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the voting rights act, it will stay in effect. that's just the tip of the iceberg. texas wasn't the only state covered by section five that moved forward immediately after the shelby county decision to put in place restrictions. and we're seeing this play out in states across the country and localities across the country, which pushed forward restrictions that were previouslyprevious ly blocked by the court and the department of justice. >> the obama justice department is now trying to pursue legal strategy. what is the -- what is that strategy look like. can you describe that to people? >> it is still illegal to discriminate on the basis of race in voting across the country. it is a lot harder to get the lawed blocked. you have to go to court, used to happen automatically. used to have a streamline system. we made this very easy to prevent discriminatory voting laws from going into effect. that's no longer the case. there are a lot of ways to block
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them. section two of the voting rights act, which applies nationwide, every state and county in the country cannot zrim knit discri the basis of race there are state constitutional provisions, federal constitutional provisions and other federal laws that are still in effect. so we still have strong -- >> voters need help here in a way, because previously the burden was basically on the state. that's what the preclearance requirement called for when you start talking about section two, that basically puts the burden on the voter or somebody helping the voter to say, hey, there is a problem here and i'm going to proactively seek -- >> to prove they were trying to discriminate and point in the wrong place, which is not necessarily an easy thing to do in the courts. what the supreme court did is they asked congress to come up with new guidelines here and, of course, congress isn't getting a whole lot done. the cbc, the congressional black caucus, came up with recommendations, but we have seen no legislation. been more than six months since this decision and they're not necessarily talking about coming in and doing it immediately when they're back in january. this is a long time. you might not see anything in
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place before the 2014 midterm election. >> let's talk about another one of these. one of the most high profile came in north carolina this year. new restrictions signed into law over the summer. among them, shortening the voting period from 17 days to ten, ending sam day registration during early voting, and banned the extension of voting hours due to long lines at the polls. and on top of that, also implemented a stringent voter i.d. law to go into effect in the 2016 presidential election and took issue with critics in this video statement. >> let me be direct. many of those from the extreme left who have been criticizing photo i.d. are using scare tactics. they're more interested in divisive politics than ensuring that no one's vote is disenfranchised by fraudulent ballot. >> he said divisive politics. i can think of little more that
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has been divisive this year, a lot of stuff in north carolina, but particularly this on voter rights in north carolina. >> the background of this in a way is that the supreme court and jurisprudence suggested it is okay to discriminate on the basis of political belief. that's been true in redistricting cases. and what the -- all of these laws are being adopted in states where -- to the -- at the expense of democrats. they're all republican laws. and they're designed to suppress not fraudulent voting, but democratic voting. that's what they're about. and, of course, the racism of it is kind of a byproduct of that. those are the groups, blacks, hispanics, those are the groups likely to be -- to be disenfranchised by these laws. and the giveaway is, well, what does shortening voting hours and eliminating voting days have to do with alleged voter fraud.
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nothing to do with that. that's only with one thing, as all the laws are. suppressing the votes of democrats. >> keeping the turnout low among the most democratic friendly constituencies that are out there. >> we'll pick that up in a second. i teased it a little bit, there was an interesting study that came out of umass boston that looked at exactly where these laws are popping up, demographically speaking. we'll detail that and talk about it when we come back. discover c. hey there, i just got my bill, and i see that it includes my fico® credit score. yup, you get it free each month to help you avoid surprises with your credit. good. i hate surprises. surprise! at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card and see your fico® credit score. avo: thesales event "sis back. drive which means it's never been easier to get a new passat, awarded j.d. power's most appealing midsize car, two years in a row. and right now you can drive one home for practically just your signature.
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you can't say you take pride in american democracy, american constitutionalism, american exceptionalism, and then you do everything you can to make it harder for people to vote as opposed to easier for people to vote. >> the study from umass boston
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that came out this week, the two authors of it wrote in the preface to it, they went into this with open eyes. want to look at every state around the country that wants to set limits on access to polls in the last five years and had no judgment going in what they were going to find, wanted to see if they could find common variables. what they found is these laws were going into effect in states where minority turnout was increasing, where a portion of the republican control of legislatures was increasing, where republicans themselves got elected to the governorships, a lot of common ground here. what they included -- this is their concluding statement. ultimately, recently enacted restrictions on voter access not only had a predictable partisan pattern, but uncomfortable relationship to the political activism of blacks and the poor. >> i would say that they targeted and they got it right because if you look at the 2008 elections and who came out to vote, and the -- what we saw is that increasingly numbers of
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people of color, young people, women, this was the -- the group of individuals who voted. now, when you put in place these type of laws that will intentionally make it harder for individuals to vote, and especially that group, we can say that it was done for the benefit of suppressing the voter democrats. but we all know what that really means. democrats, it is historically democratic voters have been voters of color, women emerging groups, so we have to stop and look at really what is happening in these type of laws when they use the word democrat voters, we're going to suppress that group. >> when you were saying, like, in north carolina, for instance, there are statistics here, you talk about -- not just the voter i.d. issue, early voting periods, there are statistics that show how this affects democratic voters and -- >> minorities and low income voters in particular as the researchers at the university of massachusetts found are actually
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hardest hit by all of these restrictions and they hit all americans, they make all americans have a harder time to vote in the states where they're enacted. if you look at north carolina, for example, the days that were targeted for removal of the early voting period, that's when 25% of african-americans voted in the 2012 election. if you look at the same day registration provisions that were removed, african-americans were twice as likely as white voter to vote during that -- using that mechanism. so these are very discriminatory in their targeting, you know. these voter i.d. laws are targeted, some i.d.s are included, some are excluded. in texas, for example, student i.d.s from state schools are not allowed, but concealed handgun carry license are allowed. these are very targeted bills. >> these are political battlegrounds too. north carolina is a state that the president very narrowly won in 2008, very narrowly lost in 2012. a competitive senate race coming up. it does matter.
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2.5 million people early voted in north carolina. what is interesting to me is republicans have long tried to get people to early vote, but it has become that's a democratic thing. i'm watching to see what political organizers do. if they decide to help people get their i.d.s and make -- drive people to the other county where they need to go get their birth certificate to get their i.d., to do that as part of organizing around that, you have to get people to show up if the laws are still in place. >> the thing that seems so -- i get the i.d. of, like, one party gets control of a state government, federal government, they're going to try to do things that will keep them in power. and that's sort of standard for american politics. when you start talking about the right to vote and you start talking about building up restrictions, that's the sort of thing that should be off limits, you know, for either political party to be playing those games. the question for republicans, is there a backlash potential here where, sure, they can look at the numbers and say, hey, maybe 10% less black turnout, better
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chance. overall is the effect of the negative attention. we won't know until 2014, 2016, will there be a backlash? >> one thing these laws do is force democrats to divert resources that might otherwise be used for targeting undecided voters, that kind of thing, just to overcome the effects of these laws. the reverse or flip side of that is that in the last election, in 2012, these laws and these efforts angered -- caused so much anger and so much indignation that turnout in the targeted groups actually increased. the question is, is that kind of motivation going to slop over, going to continue in the next election. and if it does, then these laws can back fire. >> what i'm seeing certainly in the rule area is that these individuals don't even know about these laws. and so it is important that groups like advancement project and other groups are on the ground, that we're out there, and that we're -- we're
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educating the communities about these -- the new laws that are passing. particularly in north carolina where it is a monster voter suppression bill. it is not only photo i.d., that is one piece of that bill. but to get those individuals to make sure that they know that they need this type of i.d. and certain counties, there is no dmv. these individuals have to go outside, they don't have transportation. they don't have mass transportation systems certainly that we have in other areas throughout the country. so certainly we have got to be even more -- before we start talking about trying to get i.d., we have to educate individuals about the fact that they need the i.d. in that instance, it is important that we're on the ground and that groups are out there doing the work. >> i want to pick that point up. we're talking about, in the sort of vacuum that the supreme court created with the ruling this summer, it defaulted the congress to do something, if congress wants to do something. the consensus seems to be with the republican house now, with the exception of jim sensenbrenn, doesn't seem like any republican in the house wants to do anything. are there any -- what are the
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other practical solutions? is there anything happening positive the state wide level to counteract this in the next year? we'll talk about that when we pick it up after the break. come in where? welcome to my mom cave. wow. sit down. you need some campbell's chunky soup before today's big game, new chunky cheeseburger. mmm. i love cheeseburgers. i know you do. when did you get this place? when i negotiated your new contract, it was part of the deal. cool. [ male announcer ] campbell's chunky soup. it fills you up right.
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visit and ask your doctor about celebrex. for a body in motion. only in '08, but in '12. some folks may have stood in line. and i said on election night, that's not acceptable in a democracy, that has been around as long as ours and that others look to. we assigned my chief election lawyer and mitt romney's chief election lawyer to sit down with a group and come up with a whole series of voter reforms. >> so that commission, the romney and obama lawyers, we all remember the images of the long polling lines, do you have any hope when they report back that that will lead to anything meaningful. >> i don't have a whole lot of hope for that. at least in the present
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congress. things are set up now. but it does -- it does at least suggest that there is a hope, a little bit of a hope that part of the republican party, what i suppose you call the old eisenhower wing of the republican party, shrunken though it is, and democrats could conceivably form a coalition that would make some small steps to undo some of this awful stuff. >> during the break, you were a little more optimistic. take us through that. >> absolutely. the president, after the long lines, had put in place a bipartisan commission to come up with recommendations for the states. they're going to issue their findings in early january, and that, hopefully, will lead to, you know, some bipartisan movement in the states to make the voting system easier. >> what do you think might be in there, in terms of recommendations? what kinds of recommendations? >> i think we'll see recommendations to streamline and modernize our voter registration process, that is currently our most significant
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barrier to voting and biggest embarrassment. i think we'll see more emphasis on early voting, ballot design and minimum polling place standards to eliminate long lines. i expect -- one thing that is really hopeful that hasn't been reported as much is that the same time as we have been fighting these huge massive struggle over the right to vote and the number of states, even more states have been quietly moving forward in 2013 for the first time in a new momentum to actually make the voting process easier. and we saw ten states pass laws in 2013 that actually eased up restrictions, and improved voter access. this was not only democratic states, states that were controlled by republicans or mixed control. there is a consensus among americans that we want to see our voting system work, and they don't like seeing our politicians manipulating the voting system. >> it gets back to the idea that elections have consequences in your question earlier about whether there would be any backlash on this.
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for republicans, a strong year in the midterm elections, that sweeps in legislative republicans in every single state. that's what you saw in 2010. matt schultz you quoted earlier, the iowa secretary of state, he was elected on voter i.d. platform in part because that tea party wave, a lot of legislatures flipped hands, you have republican governors coming in. so those numbers were strengthened and in some cases super majorities. if republicans are having good year, momentum could come. there may not be a backlash in either direction. >> we have the map on the screen, wendy was talking about states where there were efforts to making voting easier. one state is new hampshire. almost like a ping-pong game going on there, where republicans swept to control new hampshire in 2010, passed a lot of laws in 2012, presidential year, democrats took back control, they undid a lot of it. there is a lot of that going on. denita, we talked about this little earlier, the challenge of public opinion on this. when people start to realize that, for instance, on the quote of voter i.d., voter i.d. is a
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more far reaching thing that affects more people than instinctively realize itself, it is striking to me had you ask questions about the basic issue of voter fraud, whether you can find 17 cases, maybe, in ohio, out of millions of ballots cast, maybe 17 cases, and you can find in a poll almost half the country says this is a major problem. where does that come from? >> well, certainly i -- with regards to ohio, ohio you always are guilty until proven innocent. which is certainly in opposition to where we are in our country. 17 -- you know, none of us want people who are ineligible to vote to vote. none of us want that to happen. on the same -- in the same vain, we do not want hundreds of thousands of people disenfranchised because of 17 people, potentially, who voted and were not permitted to vote. we have laws in place to stop those things. obviously they did.
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they caught those things. and so, you know, at the end of that, that's really the crucial piece here, is that we don't need to do that. the other thing i just really would like to touch on, in terms of the changes in our country, we have a more monday movement in north carolina that is huge. it is huge because the people in the community, the grassroots groups decided to take back their state. that along with the legislature, they'll be passing legislatures and it is not only going to be in north carolina. we're going to start to see it in places like ohio, texas, other places. other people are watching. grassroots groups are watching these types of movements. and they want them in their states. they want the right to vote, don't want to make it harder. want to make it easier for the people to vote. that's what we saw in 2008. that's why we saw so many people come out. people felt for the first time they had a reason to come out, also there was not a burden to vote. >> we mentioned it earlier, the
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powerful statement in ohio, 2012, by the voters willing to stand in those lines, you know, asso onerous as that was, it ma a powerful statement. if that statement gets made in other states, that could change the momentum on this. i want to thank denita judge, rick hearseburg and wendy wiser. shifting gears, the cold war lives on in the passive aggressive gestures and the subtle diplomacy of who the white house decided to accepted to the winter olympics in russia andhe who it has chosen not to that. hayou card and gets 2x the points at restaurants. so he's just racking up points with me. some people... ugh! no, i've got it. the citi thankyou preferred card. now earn 2x the points on dining out and entertainment,
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have a feeling that russia's best ice hockey players will be trying harder when they face off against the best players from all around the world at the 2014 winter olympic games in russia. the big story this week, who will be staying home from russia to send a message over that country's anti-gay laws. those details are next. [ female announcer ] pillsbury cinnamon rolls, with cinnabon cinnamon, are an irresistible sunday morning idea. nothing calls them to the table faster. make breakfast pop! and this park is the inside of your body. see the special psyllium fiber in metamucil actually gels to trap some carbs to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. metamucil. 3 amazing benefits in 1 super fiber.
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this is the quicksilver cash card from capital one. unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, everywhere, every single day. so let me ask you... what's in your wallet? u.s. made big news by announcing who it is sending to the winter olympics in russia in seven weeks. not the athletes. they have to earn their spots. i'm talking about the official u.s. delegation. the kind of folks who wear lanyards with laminated passes on them. people who get to hobnob with the members of other official delegations and get the best seats at the best events because they're official, i guess. more on who those people are going to be in a moment. the bigger story of all of this isn't who is on that list, it is who the u.s. left off the list. vips who you would normally expect to lead in the delegation, but who will not be going to sochi. president obama, for instance, is not going.
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vice president joe biden, he isn't going either. michelle obama and jill biden, they are also staying home. nor will a delegation include any members of president obama's current cabinet. this isn't the way it is usually done. michelle obama went to the 2012 summer olympics in london. here is one of the wrestlers giving the first lady a lift. both president bushes attended the 2008 summer olympics in beijing. same with bush, the younger, in salt lake, in 2002. he had to go and open the games as the official host that year. which maybe explains why queen elizabeth fake parajump into the london opening ceremonies with james bond, a strange kind of amazing thing to look at there. president franklin roosevelt was criticized for not boycotting the 1936 berlin olympics by those who questioned the morality of participating and supporting games hosted by adolf hitler and the nazi regime. fdr and the head of the american olympic committee were able to defeat the boycott calls and jesse owens went on to win four
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gold medals in berlin. in 1980, the united states did boycott the summer olympics, president jimmy carter made the call that all american athletes would sit out the games in moscow to protest the soviet invasion of afghanistan. and the ussr returned that favor four years late, boycotting the summer games in los angeles, which brings us back to russia right now. this past summer, country that already had a spotty history on gay rights, russian parliament unanimously passed a new law against so-called gay propaganda. it makes it illegal to say straight relationships and gay relationships are equal, the law that says distribution of any kind of material about being gay is a crime. just this week, a court in russia convicted a gay rights advocate for breaking that law. because he held up a sign saying that being gay is normal. in response to russia's human rights crackdown, the united states is not boycotting the games, not this time. but that doesn't mean it isn't protesting. that official u.s. delegation to
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sochi will include janet napolitano, she's the former homeland security secretary, not a current member of the president's cabinet, michael mcfoale, the u.s. ambassador to russia, billie jean king, caitlin kao, and brian boitano. king and kao was openly gay and boitano came out this week t. here to talk about the u.s. decision to compete in sochi and the message the white house is sending by who it is and who it is not sending to russia, want to bring in stewart milk, lgbt rights advocates, christina balan balantoni, will be the editor in chief of roll call very soon,
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and mike pesca, sports correspondent for npr. should the u.s. boycott, maybe the u.s. shouldn't boycott, in terms of making a statement then, short of boycotting, what do you make of this decision this week? >> well, i think what the president did sent an important and very valuable symbolic message. i personally continue to be frustrated that what the president is doing is mostly symbolic, mostly symbolism and that we have yet as a country to take any real diplomatic measures to send a formal diplomatic protest as far as i know of about these laws. and essentially, you know, putin is in charge in russia, like never before. these olympics are an important vanity project for him. and it is very important that they go off without a hitch and it looks like he will have got
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the ioc, despite the nondiscrimination charter and the olympic sponsors and most everyone else to go along with an olympics that is not disrupted in spite of the fact they are -- they have serious human rights violations on their hands. >> well, stewart, i remember a few months ago, when the president canceled a planned sit-down meeting with vladimir putin. part of the story is he was denying putin prestige, that was an insult to putin. i wonder if in the same vain putin's olympics, something russia spent all this money for, heavily invested in, not having the president of the united states, the vice president of the united states, the first lady of the united states, is that something that to the average russian is going to be seen as sort of an insult to putin? did the united states succeed in insulting him that way? >> i think that that does send a potent message, that there is no
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senior member of the administration there. but i actually think the more potent message is who he is sending. i can't tell you the -- enough the importance of having kitchen table dialogue in russia. i spent time in euro asia, in eastern europe and central europe. there is not a lot of conversation that goes on. it is almost going back 35 years here in the u.s. when people who were lgbt were quiet. you don't talk about it. so having billie jean king, brian boitano, having caitlin there, it is going to -- we're going to have conversations and we're going to have important conversations in russian households, there is no way that billie jean king is not going to make a statement. there is no way she's not going to talk about what it was like to live basically in an environment that russia has today. and this makes a huge difference to the young people in russia, that there are role models, people who have really accomplished so much in the athletic arena, who are clear role models, that they will be
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able to look up to and start a conversation. that's where you change hearts and minds. >> and it really gets to what we take for granted here in the united states. if you don't like a state's laws, maybe move it a state where same sex marriage is legal, you can move. if you're in a country where you can't just cross borders, it is not so easy, and it sends a dramatic message, not just the united states, but france and germany are sending a signal as well. and it gets to the question of how much influence does the united states have right now. especially at a time when the relationship with russia is so tenuous and also very important given everything we have seen with syria and chemical weapons and on and on. >> what do we know about -- when the controversy first came to a head a few months ago there were sort of assurances were kind of offered by russian officials that, oh, yeah, these laws won't really apply to the athletes themselves, but what is your sense of what the atmosphere going to be like for gay
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athletes. >> they're going to have protest zones which seems un-american, except america has used them for political conventions and stuff. going to obviously if american athletes speak out, there is some indication that they will, some athletes are saying it is not my place. some athletes are saying i have to be a good guest. but others find what russia is doing unconscionable. npr did an interview with a writer who wrote a biography of putin. she's gay. she left russia two days ago because she's been targeted. she wrote the best biography i read of putin and called it a brilliant snub. using soft power like this is actually the best way to get at putin. i think putin, from what i understand about him, is a man who understands force, understands crushing the opposition, but if you can use a little jujitsu, be a little bit clever and use his moves against him, you're probably making a statement that he doesn't know how to deal with. so that's why maybe what these moves does gains the upper hand
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for the united states or people who are agreeing with us, these are rules in russia that are unconscionable. >> there are a couple of indications, one that is breaking news this morning, that maybe some of this international scorn is getting to putin a little bit, move he's making. we'll update you and tell you about a few others when we come back. [ male announcer ] here's a question for you: the energy in one gallon of gas is also enough to keep your smartphone running for how long? 30 days?
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so we're talking about how much these olympic games mean to russia to vladimir putin. the news out of russia, some of the news is that the release of mikhail kodorkovsky, he was imprisoned, lost all of his money, a threat to vladimir putin's power, he took care of him by getting him thrown in jail, he's been granted a pardon. and he's been released. he's in germany. and he issued a statement, i think we have the -- i think we have the statement for you. this is just this morning.
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says the upcoming winter olympics in sochi are a celebration of sport, that should not be damaged, however, he also said the event should not become a great party for president putin. certainly, richard, i see news like this, this is -- we had earlier this week these greenpeace activists in jail for the last couple of months in russia, suddenly they're free. it seems like putin is starting to say, try to do everything i can to minimize the black eye that my country gets over the next few months. >> not everything he can. fundamentally russia is a place that doesn't respect human rights. they're very serious human rights violations occurring on a daily basis on russia, not just directed at the lgbt community. he would appear to be taking the symbolic, clever symbolic steps to take the heat off. and i think it is working. and we talked in the previous segment about whether or not any of the athletes, former athletes that president obama is sending
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to russia as part of the official u.s. delegation will engage in conversation with everyday russians, will embark on symbolic acts of pro test while there. it is a personal decision, do you go and participate or stay back as a way to protest? i think it is important for people, if they do go, to do something symbolic -- >> that olympic village will be set up, i'm sure heavily fortified with security, do we even know, will they have the freedom to travel into the -- >> the russian government has banned the pride house. the previous two olympics we had a pride house, outside the village. all of the nation's most regions do a cultural house. and so there has been a movement to actually have lgbt pride within these national cultural houses. i think it is a wonderful opportunity. we have got a movement going ahead, i would love to see the u.s. doing that as well. and you can have people like billie jean king going into the houses and talking about lgbt
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issues. this would hit the press and hits real people. i think this is a perfect opportunity. it is a way to have conversation. it is certainly a protest. but it is a dialogue. and that dialogue is very important. >> i don't know if that will happen. because the olympics, i mean, we're focusing on russia. but the olympics themselves have a rule 50, an athlete can't engage in any protest. i was at the buenos aires conference where they elected the new president. we asked what about a tiny little lapel pin with a rainbow flag, would that be considered protest? he laughed diplomatically, we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it. we don't know what the olympics will do to enforce this you must be a good guest rule. >> it is hard to control the olympians. you're always hearing stories of whether that is parties or just, you know, getting -- saying things maybe they shouldn't or getting into trouble. it is also interesting from the international dialogue about human rights. you've got uganda which passed this restrictive law, life in prison if you're caught, in a homosexual act, seven years in jail for someone who performs a
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same sex marriage. these are big things happening globally that the united states is putting the spotlight on, there is an opportunity for a conversation. >> india, right now, last week, also, in india, they -- the supreme court reinstated a law that said to have -- to have gay sex was illegal. in that very populous country. there are all kinds of things. overall, though, the white house and the united states has really been a leader on this during president obama's administration. he and hillary clinton and john kerry have put international lgbt rights on the map in a way that has never before existed. but this will be a real test. i don't know exactly what will happen. and maybe it will turn out like we are able to make an important statement, with billie jean king and others. she could be a very powerful advocate. >> it is a reminder of how far in advance the olympic games are rewarded and handed out. i doubt in the current political climate if sochi was up, had a
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bid it would be rewarded with the olympics. i want to thank richard sakarese and harvey milk. still ahead, a story i have my own deep and personal connection to. that's next. fighting wrinkles, turn to roc® retinol correxion®. one week, fine lines appear to fade. one month, deep wrinkles look smoother. after one year, skin looks ageless. high performance skincare™ only from roc®. take skincare to the next level with new roc® multi correxion® 5 in 1, proven to hydrate dryness, illuminate dullness, lift sagging, diminish the look of dark spots, and smooth the appearance of wrinkles. high performance skincare™ only from roc®. avo: thesales event "sis back. drive" and smooth the appearance of wrinkles.
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yup, you get it free each month to help you avoid surprises with your credit. good. i hate surprises. surprise! at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card and see your fico® credit score. so if you catch me sitting in for rachel maddow, you saw me offer one whale of a personal disclosure statement. i had to do it before i could talk about one of the biggest stories going on in politics now. story been percolating for weeks, gaining steam. it could be coming to a head soon. a story i've been dying to talk about because it is about new jersey. if you watched this show or followed my career, you know new jersey politics is one of my favorite subjects to discuss. i'm about to explain why. the story involves chris christie in an only in jersey kind of scandal now threatening his national image. i'll spare you the full unedited version of the disclosure i offer on wednesday, but we'll talk about the story in a
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minute. if you missed it before, i want to explain why i wasn't talking about this story until this week. this is me almost ten years ago, back in 2004, co-hosting a weekly show on new jersey politics. reason i was co-hosting that show was because i had been working as a political reporter in new jersey for an online site called politics that website teamed up with that show and there i was writing about new jersey politics, talking about it on tv, and basically living and breathing nothing but new jersey politics. my life for three years, three great years from 2002 to 2005. and it was an accident that i ended up there in the first place. in the summer of 2002, i graduated from college, moved to l.a. with some friends, i had failed miserably there as back in massachusetts trying to break into political journalism. but to every outlet i reached out to, i just didn't exist. there were no return phone calls, no replies to my letters, nothing in my e-mail inbox. getting nowhere in a hurry and thinking of giving up. then one person, one outlet
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actually did acknowledge me. and it was that website,, this was 2002. the idea of a website devoted just to covering state politics was new. it was a novelty. newspapers themselves were barely in the game when it came to online content. so this site had sprung up in new jersey, developed a lot of credibility, because it had dead on accurate insider information, and it was written with unmatched institutional knowledge. there was also a catch. it was an anonymously owned and edited site. guy who ran it went by the pseudonym wally edge. it was taken from a new jersey governor from a long time ago. he knew he had a good thing, he wanted to go more mainstream with it, so wanted a real reporter to do real reporting, to have a real name on the site, someone to answer for in real time, in real life. so i applied for the job, not knowing anything about new jersey, or who wally might be. but i was hungry and desperate and i pretty much poured my heart out to wally in an e-mail and got the job. and i never regretted it. he offered to share his identity with me, but i refused, and knew
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everyone would be asking me who he was and i wanted to be able to tell them with a straight face i didn't know. he helped to show me the ropes, told me who the key players were, filled in the back stories, sent me suggested stories, always done on instant messenger, of course. mostly, though, wally gave me autonomy. i picked it up fast, learned what i wanted to cover, how to cover it, developed my own style, my own voice. i didn't cover politics out of the state house like most reporters. i covered the county bosses, the turf wars, the machine battles. the real action was, real action is, where the real decisions that mattered are made. every state is unique, but they don't play politics anywhere else the way they do in new jersey and i loved it. and finally, when i was ready to leave for a job at roll cal, i gave in and said i was ready to meet. he introduced himself and his name didn't mean anything to me. i was expecting an old guy, somebody in his 70s. wally was in his 40s, life-long politics junkie, in politics in his 20s, now that he worked in a
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family business, he did the site as a hobby. a nice din, we shook hands, went off to washington and that was eight years ago. why am i telling you all of this? because wally edge has been in the news a lot lately. except now under his real name, david wildsteen. a few years after i left new jersey, he sold the site and went back to politics, chris christie appointee at the port authority. runs the george washington bridge. it was david wildsteen who gave the order to shut down several george washington bridge lanes. you heard about it. it caused days of horrific traffic delays in the town of ft. lee, across from upper manhattan, fueled suspicion that it was part of an effort to punish that town's mayor for not endorsing chris christie's re-election. i haven't spoken to dave wildsteen since the story exploded, but i do want you to know in many ways i owe my career to him, i'll be grateful he took the chance on me when no one else would. we need to talk about this story. there are a lot of unanswered questions.
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we know when the -- we know when the lanes were closed, he said it was for a traffic study. we know other officials from the port authority have contradicted that. we know the mayor of ft. lee, a democrat, initially suggested political retribution was at play. but later seemed to back off of that a little. we know that wildsteen and the other top christie appointee at the port authority have both now resigned and their records have been subpoenaed by a state assembly looking into the situation. we know the u.s. department of transportation and democrats in the u.s. senate are also now starting to sniff around. and we know that christie at a press conference on thursday dismissed the whole matter as, quote, not that big a deal and claimed the mayor of ft. lee never notified port authority officials that the traffic study was causing chaos in the town. a claim the mayor then forcefully denied. ft. lee incessantly called the mayor said, called, always called when there was an event, did not depart from protocol established for 20 years, we
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called everybody we were supposed to call. that was on friday. what we don't know now is what everyone is wondering, was this all part of a political payback scheme that christie himself had any knowledge of? here to discuss this we have nick ocachella, and new jersey state assembly man john diznevsky, he's heading the investigation into what happened with the lane closures. assemblyman, i'll start with you. you've subpoenaed port authority records from wildsteen and baroni. you've not yet asked them to testify under oath. can you tell us exactly what the status of your investigation is and what is coming in the next few weeks? >> we had pat floyd, the executive director, come in and testify under oath and the man who managed the bridge and his boss. and they both have disputed bill
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baroni's baroni's ascetation of how this happened. this is about an abuse of power. about two men put into important positions of trust, who abuse that power. not sure why. everybody is suspecting it is political retribution, but they abuse that power and, worse, they try to cover it up. tried to make it as if it were a routine matter, though everybody is disputed it was anything but routine. >> describe for people, the george washington bridge, everybody knows, connects new york and new jersey and ft. lee is one of the towns, right on the new jersey side. the effective these lane closures described what happened in that town. >> it shut down it ft. lee. ft. lee is a town of 50,000 people on the new jersey side of the bridge. you could not move through the town. they had a missing child, the police department had a hard time getting from one side to the other because of the traffic that just engulfed ft. lee. there was a heart attack call,
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the police were trying to get to, they were delayed to that. it really just totally messed up ft. lee. when you put the politics into it, ft. lee is run by democratic mayor, the port authority, every year, has given $70,000 to ft. lee for street cleaning near the bridge, that contract was up for renewal, there were discussions about that contract being up for renewal, now starts to get in a political context. but whether this was about a failure of an endorsement or not, it is really about an abuse of power. two men without any accountability shut down two lanes on the busiest bridge in the world, and they thought they could get away with it. >> do you suspect that this is something that chris christie himself had had knowledge of? >> we don't have any proof of that. we have e-mails that go back to the governor's staff, but beyond that we don't know whether it is because they had foreknowledge or just an e-mail after the fact. but what is clear is, look, you don't get to be on the port authority, you don't get big
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jobs without being really close to the governor and having the governor's absolute confidence. these two men get the two prized appointments that the govern kerr make at the port authority and they close down the lanes. it is not like they did it as lone rangers. don't get to that position by being a freelancer. >> i talked to you on rachel's she on wednesday night, you were expressing skepticism that the governor himself would have any knowledge. >> this was so dumb that we have to give the governor credit for not being that dumb. one thing i don't understand, what did they think they were going to accomplish? this was to punish the mayor of ft. lee. everybody in ft. lee hates the port authority. everybody. so you think you're going to blame the mayor for these traffic -- all you have to do is point the fingefinger, the port authority did this. mayors in ft. lee get re-elected by criticizing the port authority. that's their staple. i just -- i don't understand what they were trying to
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accomplish. >> have you talked -- has your committee spoken with the mayor himself. initially some of the information that came out made it sound like he suspected there was political retribution, he seemed to back off it. what have you learned from him? >> his initial letter to bill baroni said this smacks of political retribution and then backed off that position. but internal e-mails show the port authority, some of the lower ranking people who are involved in the cleanup operation after this broke also suspected political retribution. so there is clearly some air of political overtones of that somebody wanted to get to the mayer in some way. >> are you going to call him to testify? >> one people we're considering calling, i don't want to go through the whole list, but one person we're considering calling is the mayor, we're going to consider calling back bill baroni, and david wildsteen for testimony because clearly the three of them are at the center of this and we need to get answers on how in such a large organization that has so much
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responsibility, two men could shut a bridge lane, violate the federal bridge act, and try to get away with it. >> how do you think this plays to -- we look at chris christie and we'll maybe find out in the next two weeks if there was knowledge on chris christie's part, just in general, you look at chris christie as a politician with national aspirations, trying to connect with voters in states where the political culture is different than new jersey, how do you think a story like this -- >> it doesn't help. it doesn't help him. the thing that he and his people have to avoid is getting involved in any way -- if they had nothing to do with the original scheme, getting involved in any way with covering it up is the disaster. look, we know that richard nixon really didn't order the break in at the watergate. he got the -- he got in trouble for covering it up. i'm pretty sure that ronald reagan didn't order iran/contra, covering it up was the problem. that's where they get in
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trouble. so the best thing -- i think he's been handling it pretty well. i know nothing about this. my hands are clean. i'm staying out of it. let it play out. >> also, i think people have been surprised, the public loyalty he's shown, if he's saying he knew nothing about it -- >> that doesn't surprise me. he's a loyal guy. does not leave wounded soldiers on the field. that doesn't surprise me at all. they got to walk a very, very fine line here, very fine line. >> the governor has defended that. >> yes. >> which i think -- i think that's -- to people sort of casually watching, that has been a surprise, they say, if he hasn't known, why is he defending him. >> that's the way he is. that doesn't surprise me at all. >> i want to thank john visnevsky. some people have an easier time than others when it comes to gift ideas for the holidays. those people are never al franken. this video is relevant. we'll explain to you how it is relevant when we come back. hi honey, did you get the toaster cozy?
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i've actually gotten quite a bit of holiday shopping done this year. that's a rarity for me. normally i'm one to run out on christmas week or christmas eve and wildly grab things to check people off my list. i've gotten a lot done. started giving out my gifts earlier this week. got my team here on "up" fitchburg state sweatshirts. it was fitchburg college, now it is fitchburg university. anyway, go falcons. my parents are in town, it has been nice. all been nice. it also felt really great this week that senator franken conducted his secret santa.
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65 senators participated this year. senators had to keep their gifts under $15 and, of course, in complete secrecy until the party on tuesday night. the gift giving reached across party lines with republican senator orrin hatch of utah presenting massachusetts senator elizabeth warren with doughnuts and coffee from the massachusetts-based dunkin' donuts. he's supposed to give her something from utah. they reached across continental lines as arizona senator jeff flake gave hawaii senator a fake rattlesnake egg. that's more like it. that's something from arizona they probably don't have in hawaii. flake got it more than hatch did. sometimes within very well defined lines as al franken showed off his talent of being able to draw a map of the united states from memory, as his gift to senator joe donnelly from indiana. you can see it there. to stay in the holiday spirit, we thought we would do our own political secret santa with no spending limits.
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no rules and most importantly no wrapping paper. most importantly these hats. they're all wearing them, i have to put this thing on now too. now i'm one of them. we'll spin the wheel. we have it behind me. we'll see who our -- who we'll get assigned to a secret santa, go around the panel and give our gifts to whoever we land on. we have kate nocera, the height of her reporting year. >> i work this all the time. >> mike peska is back. so is reporter, columnist, writer, nick acachella. so thank you for doing this. we'll spin the whelm and see who our first gift recipient is. let's give this a good whirl. round and round it goes. it is going to stop on -- stops on the president of the united states. barack obama.
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so, kate, barack obama, got to give him a gift. what is it go to be? >> a lot of pajama clad young people buying health insurance in the next day or two. right? he needs a lot of them to get the old obama care up and running. >> the pajamas are key this week. >> it was huge. >> mike, what is your gift to the president? >> i'll insist you call me crumpet for this segment. faster internet connection, like a really fast internet connection, maybe one faster than actually currently existing. >> 24 bps isn't getting it done. >> dialup won't get enough people signed up. >> nick? >> new book i saw on the shelves called websites for dummies. >> same line. get the book, get the high speed modem. christina? >> url, to calm, one of the most calming, wonderful gift sites there are out there.
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not even a gift site, just a site where a calming humanity comes to you, gives you a nice friendly mess annual, puts you in a good mood. >> it is a different image -- it is a still image. every time you load it, it is a friendly nice message that can put anybody in a good mood. >> using them for public -- >> i got a couple of people to scratch off my list. i think calming manatee is a cheap -- what is my gift to president obama? my gift, the up against the clock home edition. always say if you have children under 12, you know, small parts, be careful. old enough now to enjoy the up against the clock home edition. let's spin the wheel and see who else we're giving gifts to.
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who else in the news this year needs a christmas present? it is sarah palin. sarah palin, always in the news. when is she not? let's start with you, kate? >> i think a reality show with the cast of "duck dynasty," just bring palins and "duck dynasty" together, it would be epic. >> like the flintstones and jeffersons met, not the jeffer sons, the jetsons. >> that might have worked. >> come to think of it. mike? >> i give her a $5,000 gift card to a store like blockbuster or books a million or borders. it seems impressive but has no value when you think about it. >> well played. >> i would give her 15 more minutes of fame. >> you want 15 more minutes of fame? >> sure, i love her. she's great. >> hasn't gotten old for you? >> that never gets stale with me. >> union station, i waited for my train to get here yesterday, there is a store called america, they have them at airports and
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all kinds of stuff. there is t-shirts that says, don't blame me i voted for mitt romney and barack obama toilet paper. so maybe a give certificate to that. >> i'm still trying to figure out if she actually voted for mitt romney last year. she didn't vote for obama, but some comments she made, i wonder if she voted for obama. my gift to sarah palin, we'll give her the duck dynasty dvd collection. she probably has it at this point. sarah palin -- >> the graphic. >> yes. >> being the host, you know, you have the home graphic advantage. we have a few more names up here, few more faces up here. we'll keep the silly hats on for one more segment, back and spin awe few more times and a few more gifts after this. [ male announcer ] this is jim,
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figures of the year. who is next, getting a gift from us. oh, wow. it is! toronto mayor rob ford. i have no idea what to get him. but, kate, a gift for the mayor. >> i would get him a congressional seat in congress, mostly, so i could cover him. selfishly so i could cover him. >> the one -- and the team in canada, and congress gets one representative -- >> even just an exchange program, just for a week, so we could -- >> he would be a nonvoting delegate, give the floor speech. >> what to get for the man who gets to ingest everything? i would get him a hamilton tiger cat jersey. he wears the toronto argonauts jersey to the dismay of that team. get him signed up with the hamilton tide cats. >> some relief from toronto fans. >> yeah, yeah. >> take the jersey off. >> always thinking of hamilt
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hamiltoni hamiltonians. >> i'm always thinking of what people might need so i'm going to buy him a hucca. >> i'm sure he needs it. >> he needs a book, contract or tv show. >> doesn't he already have one? he had the show for one episode, immediately canceled. my rob ford gift actually is a football helmet, which could be argonauts, could be the tiger cats, because this keeps happening with rob ford walking around. >> imagine if he had had a football helmet. that would have been quite so painful or there was running back rob ford. maybe she actually needed the helmet there. >> got under the shoulder pads on that one. >> let's give it another spin here. and we have got -- that's sarah
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palin. we have done that before. let's keep going. and we've got, it looks like john boehner, speaker of the house john boehner. kate, you're the capitol hill reporter, be careful you don't offend him here. >> so we learned this week that john boehner rents his apartment from a tanning lobbyist, but the lobbyist said there wasn't a tanning bed in the apartment and there never would be. so maybe we could get one for him. >> he certainly looks like he needs one. >> he does. he he's looking a little pasty. >> i would get him the box set of harper valley pta. that starred george goble. he said i feel like a pair of brown shoes in a world of tuxedos. he's got crazy politicians he's trying to wrangle in. everyone loves mike lee, everyone loves ted cruz and his party. he's just trying to get them all together.
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just, like, some normal nonflamboyant slightly orange guy. i feel for him. >> i had a lot of trouble with this. i wanted tolegacy, but i can't imagine what it would be. >> ouch. >> in the same vain as my gift to president obama, a little calming for the holidays, i would give john boehner a spa day. a seaweed wrap, a facial, nice foot massage. it has been a rough year. you think about how it started, they were in session on new year's day, fixing the fiscal cliff. coming to an agreement on the budget. this was not easy. >> does he get to smoke at the spa? all of the health benefits go away. i was trying to think of a gift for the speaker and i went to my favorite site,, i'm checking all the time. we found this essay which i suggested he read, confessions of a chronic crier. and it is advice to people who struggle, not to cry at inopportune moments. i think that might be a good one for john boehner. that's my gift to him.
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it is a really cheap gift because it is a url. but i guess -- >> calming manatee. >> calming >> we just crashed their server by the way. >> this is great. we have gifts for the political class and maybe some gift ideas here for -- if you've got a few shopping days for your loved ones, maybe we helped you with that too. that's all the time we have in our little edition of secret santa. i want to thank mike peska, christina balantoni, and shifting gears, we have suitcases full of cash. that's another great christmas gift. hidden cameras, convicted con man. ng line, marching band playing ] [ male announcer ] the rhythm of life. [ whistle blowing ] where do you hear that beat? campbell's healthy request soup lets you hear it in your heart. [ basketball bouncing ] heart healthy. [ m'm... ] great taste. [ tapping ] sounds good. campbell's healthy request.
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♪ through 12 blizzards blowing ♪ 6 snowballs flying ♪ 5 packages addressed by toddlers ♪ ♪ that's a q ♪ 4 lightning bolts ♪ 3 creepy gnomes ♪ 2 angry geese ♪ and a giant blow-up snowman ♪ that kind of freaks me out [ beep ] [ female announcer ] no one delivers the holidays like the u.s. postal service. priority mail flat rate is more reliable than ever. and with improved tracking up to 11 scans, you can even watch us get it there. and look for our limited edition holiday stamps. the highly anticipated film american hustle opened in theaters everywhere this weekend, tops the list for the
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most mom natinominations for ne month's golden globes. what it is not up for is best documentary. even though american hustle is based on one of the most amazing political corruption stories in u.s. history. ad scam, under cover fbi agents slipped tens of thousands of dollars of cash to one congressman after another in an elaborate sting and all caught on tape. >> only two people involved, you and i. >> okay. >> if that's all right with you, that's the way we'll do it. it is up to you. >> okay. >> i don't know whether i can -- >> i'll tell you what, let's put that in there, i guess you can stick those in your other
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pocket, back pocket or something like that, just leave your jacket open and you'll be in good shape. >> that was the fbi's secret recording of republican congressman richard kelly of florida, taking $25,000 from an undercover agent in january of 1980. he along with five other congressmen, one u.s. senator, a big city mayer from new jersey, a philadelphia city councilman and ins inspector were all ultimately convicted in the scandal. truly riveting story. a story that american hustle tries to tell. sort of. one of the most fascinating parts of the movie for me is that they put up on the screen right at the beginning. some of this actually happened. some of it. new plot elements are invented, individuals are morphed into new characters, given new names, the legacies of some politicians involved are even rewritten. it doesn't pretend to be a documentary. tells you some of it is true. sin
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american hustle, this isn't the first time hollywood has gone head to head with history. same thing last year with argo. the oscar winning best picture will be the defining account of a covert operation to get six american diplomats out of iran at the height of the 1979 hostage crisis. ben affleck directed the film and played the part of american cia agent tony mendez, who was portrayed as the soul hero of the american-led mission. but he had a partner in real life and in the movie. the six americans hide out in the canadian ambassador's residence but nothing said about the dip nates wlomats worked be scenes. >> i saw the movie argo recently. i was taken aback by its distortion of what happened. because almost everything that was heroic or courageous or innovative was done by canada and not by the united states. >> president carter is saying is
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true, but it is also true only have two hours to tell a story. hard choices have to be made. nevertheless, argo will be the version of what happened that most everyone remembers. this happens again and again in hollywood. the recent 50th anniversary of jfk's death saw oliver stone's 1991 film "jfk" back in theaters for a short time. a very controversial take on the events of the president's murder, rereleased to an audience of millions. all the presidents men, the list goes on and on, telling great stories on screen is one of 9 the things that america does best. when politics are involved, are we do disservice to history if we aren't totally faithful to it? still with us to talk about it, nick acachella and chris wilkinson, screenwriter for "nixon," kate nocera and dave
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nitskov as well. you have written, been part of movies that attempt to tell political history. and what is your -- just in general, what is your sense of that balance? how to strike that balance between you want to tell a good story, entertaining story and want to be faithful to history. how do you balance that? >> i go to the movies, i like to have a feeling that what i'm seeing is happening. i think -- for a writer, you know, everybody has got that balance for themselves. you have -- you're obligated to the fact, depending on the historical importance of the character and the story, but you have to tell a good story. i can only speak for myself. as to where that balance -- where that line -- where you're crossing that line in what is total bs and what is -- >> yeah. >> i noticed it watching american hustle. i really -- i love the movie.
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i recommend that everybody go see it. one thing that struck me is they start naming the members of congress in the movie, in their fake names. not the actual members of congress who take it down. you have harrison pete williams as the senator from new jersey, went down to this thing, not the senator's name. there is a whole story line involving the mayor of camden, new jersey, mayor of camden, new jersey, in the real scandal essential to this. they create this whole story of who the mayor of camden is and how this guy who is helping the fbi falls for him as, like, you know, feels really bad helping to entrap him and everything. the story, the personal story they create wasn't actually the personal story of the mayor of camden. i love watching a movie, but i wonder how -- i wonder how much of this is even true. >> the krfigure that christian bale plays is played on a real life character. the character is named irving rosenfeld, there is a mel
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wineburg, low level, you know, player, deal erk er, he did do mini scams you see in the film, who the fbi recruited to help them in the real scandal. he had a hair piece not unlike the comb over that christian bale wears in the movie. once you get past that, i think that is david russell's vehicle to tell a tale about the people in this period of time, what the era was like, the sense that everybody is kind of conning one another, not only on the grand scale, but in their day to day lives. and that's the story he wants. >> you mention mel weinberg, the con man, there is classic interview mike wallace on 60 minutes interviewing the real mel weinberg. we'll play a clip of this, and tell you who christian bale's character is based on. >> you've said i'm going to be delighted to let the people of this country know what their politicians are really like. >> that's correct.
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>> what are the politicians really like? >> well, i think they're crooks. >> it takes one to know one. >> that's true. no argument i'm not a pervert. i may be a crook. there is nothing greater. you take the politicians, you see how powerful you are, you sit back and laugh and think you're stupid and you sit and laugh and you get yours. >> the funny thing is, in the movie, i don't want to give it away too much, one of the -- that character in the movie ends up looking at one of the politicians and feeling guilty about taking him down and saying there is a lot more gray here than the fbi allows. i don't know if that's what the real mel weinberg thought. >> i think we need to get over this. after what the movie industry has done to literature, why would we be surprised they do it to history? if it is entertaining, that's their goal. it works in a lot of these things. sometimes it doesn't work. i think it has to be judged --
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judged for what it is, not what we want it to be. >> what do you want it to be. >> interesting that -- >> i want it to be entertaining. that's all i want. >> that's my point. not a documentary. it is a story. >> you didn't think that guy was a dead wringer for christian bale? >> he may be more entertaining than the movie. >> christian bale comes close to it, with the makeup job they did in the movie. >> if you remember when zero dark thirty came out, they made a big point, they had done all this research and reporting and then senators dianne feinstein and john mccain came out and said, you know, we know what actually happened, and it -- you need to clarify that a lot of this is actually fiction, contrast with this which says this is -- some of this is real and some of this is not. it depends how the filmmakers want to put out what exactly they have put into the movie. >> i guess the thing is, i've read so many -- first of all, covering new jersey as i talked
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about earlier, i've seen stories in new jersey where i had the -- nick, i'm sure it is true for you too, this is a movie. this by itself could be a movie. this could be a movie. to me when i start -- you see this being made into a movie, i'm like i don't know how much fictionalization is required. we'll pick it up on the other side. i want to get the sense of when hollywood has gotten it right, not just with an entertaining political movie, but i movie that got politics and history right. if you have any examples in mind what you think is a great political history movie. we'll talk about that when we come back. .. while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult. prescription celebrex can help relieve arthritis pain so your body can stay in motion. because just one 200mg celebrex a day can provide 24 hour relief for many with arthritis pain and inflammation. plus, in clinical studies,
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[ male announcer ] we all deserve a good night's sleep. thankfully, there's zzzquil. it's not for colds, it's not for pain, it's just for sleep. ♪ because sleep is a beautiful thing™. ♪ zzzquil. the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil®. historical movies we have seen that get that balance right, we think that get the balance right between actually getting the history mostly right, getting the politics mostly right and still being entertaining. one that comes to mind to me is all the president's men, woodward and bernstein, their story of watergate, i thought that was an entertaining movie and i think they told -- they're
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telling their story very well. are there any you guys think of -- >> that may be the best of them. i'm partial to "amistad," which tells the story -- it invents a character, but so what, and it tells the story very, very clearly and poignantly about african slaves who are -- who bring a case before the united states supreme court. very, very well done. >> what about you? >> i would go back to "all the president's men," not only because all newspaper reporters do look like either robert redford or dustin hoffman. we know that's a factual truth. there is an honesty in how the reporters build their case in that movie, that they don't just go right to nixon's doorstep and nail him. a lot of reporting is about starting at the sort of atomic level, you get handed a little bit of a tip or maybe you see something in a local courtroom and slowly that builds and it leads them, you know, to the scandal that is beneath all of that. >> very honest about the big
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mistake they make too, where they misunderstood what somebody says. >> and that -- >> and that costs them badly. >> what about you, chris? what do you think of? >> there has been some good ones. "last king of scotland," you know, i don't know that much about the situation, but it seemed truthful. that, for me, is key. the difference between the truth and truthful. and i think that if you're truthful, part of the drill of being a screenwriter is you have to love your characters. even richard nixon, you have to -- that's part of the job. and if you present somebody's humanity, if you present somebody's truth, you can't stray too far. i think. that's -- >> nixon, such a fascinating historical -- there was a movie called -- i think called secret honor about richard nixon in -- philip baker hall played him. just richard nixon sort of walking around, it felt true to
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everything we have learned about the character of richard nixon. i thought it was a great expression of richard nixon, as i understand him as a political figure, a character, as a person, but you don't know if any of it is true. it is a worked on nixon i an tell you that we were really scrupulous about it. we recognize the importance of the historical character. richard nixon is on a different level than "argo". these are wonderful movies. >> it depends on the story that you are telling. i think there is -- the bar is different. >> what about you? >> all the president's men. you can't think of anybody beth better. you imagine that washington is going to be just like that. it is not.
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you know we love to run across it or a watergate scenario. but that was a movie that got me interested and wanting to come and being a reporter. >> and take down the next president. >> haven't done that quite yet. >> i'm going to wear my santa hat. >> we talk about this post wa r watergate media culture. there is a certain strain of reporter. but what made all the president's men extraordinary is it doesn't happen every day. it happens once or twice in history and here it is. what should we know today? our answers coming up after this. h month to help you avoid surprises with your credit. good. i hate surprises. surprise! at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. get the it card and see your fico® credit score.
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it took off on friday which means they are not going to confirm janet yellin until
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january. >> okay. look for that. we have been talking about movies and the oscar race is still going to be co lessing this week. it could produce nominations former rifor merrill streep and many others. >> 51 days from today. the first pitchers and catchers report to spring training. >> as we go into the christmas movie season i think you should know that movesie stars have gigantic heads. >> really? >> shocking. who m humungous. merry christmas to everyone out there celebrating this week. and we will be back next weekend
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with a new "up". i want to thank everyone for getting up this morning. we will be back next weekend saturday and sunday morning at 8:00 am eastern time. stick around for m eemtelissa h this morning. plus, who is afraid of elizabeth warren? nerdland is next. we'll see you next week. ♪ [ male announcer ] if we could see energy...
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are we giving r kelly a free pass? but first, weaponising a political tool. as democrats prepare to wage against the machine. good morning. as 2013 draws to a close. i want everyone to have a good time and when you do, keep crazy uncle rufus away from the punch bowl. why? because now is the calm before the 2014 political storm. they may very well


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